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Revealed: America’s most impatient states

Impatient states header image

We all grow frustrated from time to time, for varying reasons. These might include having unrealistic expectations about the world and oneself, struggling to claim control over a situation, and lacking perspective. But what are the most common causes of impatience across the nation, and how does each state stack up?

Surveying 2,838 respondents, we’ve determined the circumstances that infuriate Americans the most, how long the average person can withstand being left on hold over the phone or live chat, the typical response to frustration, and which states are the most impatient. We also spoke to career coach Joanna Blazinska, Founder of Leap and Leadership, to discuss the matter in hand and discover her top tips for managing impatience.

Which situations do Americans find the most frustrating?

There are plenty of nuisances and annoyances in day-to-day life, but nothing is more frustrating for the average American than slow-moving or static traffic, with an astounding 57.72% rating this the top irritant. Similarly exasperating, though, is slow internet, with an almost equal 57.05% admitting to getting irked by a laboring web page. Meanwhile, half of Americans (50.18%) confess to losing their rag over being left on hold by customer service.

Looking at things by gender, our data reveals that there’s absolutely nothing more aggravating for the typical American man than being held in traffic, with an astounding 59.26% claiming to become enraged in such instances. Contrastingly, women are most vexed by frustratingly sluggish internet (59.28%). The same two annoyances crop up again across each age range, too, with the majority of 16-24 (56.02%) and 25-34-year-olds (57.92%) especially troubled by a struggling Wi-Fi connection above all else.

However, getting easily irate needn’t always be a negative; Joanna explains how channeling your annoyance can actually help to deliver actions with urgency and seriousness. Proceed with caution, though, as impatience can impact decision making, interpersonal relationships, and trigger conflict.

With all frustrations considered, we’ve given each state a relative index score of between 0-9. Ranking each accordingly, we can reveal that citizens of Vermont are the most irritable Americans, with the New Englanders receiving an index score of 7.06. Also featuring within the top five grouchiest states, we have Iowa (6.67), Rhode Island (6.09), Utah (5.94), and Kansas (5.80).

Map showing the most impatient states

How long will you wait on hold?

Being left on hold, while waiting for customer service, can be inconceivably frustrating at the best of times, and can rile even the most relaxed soul. So, it’s little surprise that just short of half of American callers (43.48%) hang up the phone or exit a live chat within just 10 minutes. Of those who brave the mind-numbing nothingness for even longer, just 5% continue to wait beyond the 20-minute mark, while 5% of Americans refuse to hold altogether.

Intriguingly, Joanna believes the rapid advancement in recent technology has led to increased, and sometimes unrealistic, expectations of instant response times. Additionally, by continually consuming social media and short-form content, while multitasking on our mobiles, we’re rewiring our brains to demand quick success and short waiting periods.

Interestingly, it’s the younger generation who are the most patient when it comes to handling hold frustration, with those aged 16-24 (26.82%) and 25-34 (25.00%) likely to wait for between 16-20 minutes. Meanwhile, people aged 35-44 (34.38%), 45-54 (30.94%), and 55+ (32.10%) will close the call or chat bot within just 6-10 minutes.

By state, with each ranked according to a relative index score of between 0-6, it’s the people of New Jersey (4.5) who hang up quicker than anyone else. Next up, those in South Dakota (4.46) and Iowa (4.30) aren’t far behind, while residents of Idaho (4.22) and Alabama (4.14) are also fairly quick to give up on a call. At the opposite end of the scale, however, the patient people of New Hampshire (1.67) will wait the longest before finally hanging up.

What do Americans consider a reasonable response to frustration?

While frustration affects us all in different ways, as many as a third of all Americans (31.89%) confess to simply shutting down and switching off from the people around them once reaching peak vexation.

At the other end of the response spectrum, 26.46% let emotion overwhelm them to the point of tears, while 25.65% can’t help but scream and shout in a fit of rage. Shockingly, 16.10% admit to lashing out in anger at whatever unfortunate inanimate object is within arm’s reach.

Curiously, the male response to frustration is to succumb to silence (31.52%), whereas women are more likely to cry in anguish (33.09%).

Assessing by area, there’s a whole cluster of hot-head states jam-packed with residents who can’t help but lose it over even the slightest annoyance; incredibly, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming all registered zero frustration-free respondents.

Impatient states: the most irritable regions

Analyzing responses across each surveyed section and ranking each state according to their relative index score (between 0-16), we can conclusively reveal that Iowa (11.50) is the most impatient state across America. Scoring 11.14, South Dakota takes second place, while Vermont (10.61), Kansas (10.43), and New Jersey (10.19) all also feature within the top five most restless regions.

Turning our attention to the other end of the table, it’s clear that some states are much more collected in the face if frustration than others. In fact, Arizona (5.43) takes the crown as the most composed state, able to hold firm against all kinds of annoyances. Not too far behind, Missouri (5.46) takes silver, while Maryland (6.39), West Virginia (6.42), and Wisconsin (6.60) are also among the most accommodating areas.

Top tips to manage impatience

Image showing a checklist of tips to remain calm.

To help you combat future frustration, Joanna has revealed her top three tips for managing stressful situations.

1. Take the time to develop strategies to cope with irritability. For instance: breathing exercises, maintaining mindfulness, and self-compassion.

2. Try to take a realistic view of the world around you and focus only on the factors within your control.

3. Establish what behaviors you’d like to exhibit. Reflect on what triggers a response and work on promoting a more productive outcome.

Discover the solution to impatience within your business; our phone answering and live chat team are always at the ready to offer your customers a helping hand, and we’ll never leave them hanging. Or, for even more expert commentary, check out our blog.

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